Mike’s Top Films of the Decade (470-461)
And here we are. The big list. Theoretically the one we’ve been building toward. But really anticlimactic when you get down to it. You think the list of my ‘favorite’ films of an entire decade would be the thing you want. But really it’s just me going back over a lot of the stuff I covered on the other lists and a broad regurgitation of my top ten lists from the ten years. So, rather than treat this like some big holy set of rankings, I’m just gonna do what I did with all the other lists – try to get you to see some of these you haven’t seen before and maybe introduce you to some cool movies.
It’s important to note, as it’s important to note with all my lists – the rankings don’t really matter. The number is only a function of the day I put it together. The only way to truly get a real ranking of my favorite films of the decade is for me to take the pool of films I used and make up this list from scratch at least ten different times and then use some sort of formula to figure out the average position of each movie and then create a ranking. And that’s not the goal here. I don’t care about the numbers. I care about talking up the films I like and trying to get people to see some of them.
So, if you feel like you want to get upset about where something is ranked, know that it’s a broad ranking. For the most part, films are in the general range of the 25-50 where I’d generally rate them next to everything else. Things will change as I revisit stuff and as time goes on. Like I said, this is really just about telling you what I enjoyed most in the hopes that it gets you to check out some of the stuff you either didn’t know about before or never bothered to see (or maybe saw and didn’t fully appreciate at the time). That’s it. It’s really just about celebrating movies. Don’t get so hung up on the numbers.
So, here are my 500 favorite films of 2010-2019:
It’s funny how omnipresent this franchise and character are and yet how little it’s generally regarded outside of the theme song. The original Shaft is largely forgotten outside of its title and song (which won an Oscar and is badass as hell). Outside of knowing it exists, very few people could even tell you that the films Shaft’s Big Score and Shaft in Africa even exist. But then they made the Sam Jackson remake in 2000 (which features both Christian Bale and Jeffrey Wright, in case you forgot), and he just sort of became a natural fit for the character and became the face of it for a generation of people. And then life just sort of went on. And here this movie comes, and you think, “Okay, they’re making it again.” But then you see the poster, and it’s three generations of Shafts, and you think, “Oh god, they’re handing it off to a new generation.” And you can just imagine how cheesy and stupid the whole thing is gonna be. Only it’s not that. This is a straight up comedy. It’s very much Samuel L. Jackson as Shaft, and the whole thing is gleefully a hard R and isn’t trying to be anything but. And it’s playing up the fact that the Shaft character could never exist in today’s society with its political correctness and hipsters and all that. And that’s basically the plot. His son (who he’s never really known because he’s been an absentee father after getting divorced from the kid’s mother) wants to be an FBI agent and is very straight-laced and proper. And so he goes to see his father, who’s like, “Who the fuck are you? You aren’t my son.” And promptly makes fun of him… until he finds out someone hit him, at which point he goes and fucks that person up. And it’s hilarious. And so it’s largely the two of them going around on this case, and then they bring Richard Roundtree back as Grandpa Shaft, which is pretty fun, for the third act. It’s not the movie I expected it to be and probably not the movie you expect it to be. It’s really funny and exactly the kind of movie I’d have wanted out of a third Shaft iteration.
469. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Netflix has almost single-handedly revived the rom com genre. It died in the late 2000s, right around the rise of Apatow. Everything just became raunchy comedies. Maybe there was a hint of romance. Occasionally there’d be one or two that was okay, but by 2011, the genre was basically dead and relegated to the Hallmark channel. But then Netflix came along and became the perfect place to revive it. The best rom coms often have a great central concept, good chemistry between the leads and smart writing. And while not all the Netflix rom coms have that, a surprising amount do. Often coming from the most unsuspecting places. This one has all three of those things. The concept: a girl, over the years, wrote letters to all the boys she’s had crushes on, but was always too shy to send them. Then one day, she finds out the letters were mysteriously mailed. And this makes her have to confront all these crushes all at once. It’s really sweet. The chemistry between the two leads works, and the writing is top notch. There’s some really charming dialogue here, which is always the first thing I look for in these movies. Is it trope-y? Sure. But that’s the point of genre. I’m very quick to buy into a rom com when it’s good and very quick to dismiss it when it’s not. And this one’s legitimately good.
I’ve been very critical of D.C. for the entirety of their run. Batman v. Superman is a disaster, and it’s largely been a mess all the way through. Wonder Woman is a bright spot, and then there’s this. This is a film generally removed from everything else, outside of token mentions of there being other things. It’s its own little movie with its own tone and themes, and because of that (and the fact that it’s actually charming), it’s one of the better movies D.C. has made. It’s Big but with a superhero. And it’s fun. It’s got the right type of humor to appeal to kids and adults. The scale is small (if predictable), and they focus on character and story instead of big set pieces. Zachary Levi is really great and the film has a nice, touching message behind it.
Lars Von Trier is a very polarizing director. Though as much as I always feel like I’m never gonna like whatever it is he makes, I always come out feeling like each film was really solid. And that’s the case with this, his ode to depression. Nothing like a good film about the end of the world, with absolutely nothing to hope for and nothing to uplift you whatsoever. It’s really well made. Not something I ever really need to see again, but it’s got a great Kirsten Dunst performance and is typical Von Trier making good movies.
466. Infinitely Polar Bear
A film I’ve talked about a few times on these lists (this is at least the fifth time, so if you’ve actually read these articles, this should be familiar to you). It’s based on writer-director Maya Forbes’ childhood, and is about two girls growing up with a bipolar father. Mark Ruffalo plays the father, and is great in the film, Zoe Saldana plays the wife/mother, and Forbes’ daughter, Maya Wolodarsky, plays the young version of her. It’s a really charming film with great performances and a nice coming-of-age story that feels personal but also shines a light on what it’s like to be a child of a person with mental illness. Really strong stuff.
465. Cold War
Pawel Pawlikowski’s gorgeously shot melodrama. His Ida won Best Foreign Language Film in 2014, and now this got him nominated for Best Director. It’s a really strong film that is, above all else, absolutely stunning to look at. Even if you don’t get involved in the story, you can just watch the beautiful images and ways he frames the actors. That’s worth the price of admission alone.
464. Bad Words
One of the great comedy premises of the decade: former spelling bee whiz kid uses a loophole that allows him to compete in the contest as an adult. And so the film is basically an adult swearing around children and actively being a dick about the fact that he clearly should not be in this competition. It’s really funny. One of the few comedies of the decade I wholeheartedly support.
463. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Ah, Yorgos. I like that Yorgos unabashedly makes weird movies. Dogtooth was — well, it was what it was. And then no one really saw Alps as compared to Dogtooth, but then he made The Lobster, which was his most commercial film to that point. And this as a followup was just so weird and so antithetical to what audiences would want to see that I love it. I don’t even know how to explain this movie outside of saying, “If you like Yorgos, if you enjoyed The Lobster, this is more of that.” It’s closer to The Lobster than The Favourite. It’s probably a little further than The Lobster in terms of weirdness. But it’s got some really nice dark humor to it and is so weird that it makes me happy.
462. Fast Color
A beautiful film. It’s a superhero movie but if it were made for Sundance. Very much an indie drama that just happens to be about a woman with superpowers. Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays a woman born with superpowers (she can telekinetically take objects apart and put them back together and sees flashes of bright colors occasionally). She’s been on the run, wandering around as a homeless woman and having violent seizures that cause earthquakes and power outages. She’s being pursued by nameless government agents and is trying to get back to her daughter, who is in the care of her mother and who she’d previously abandoned. So it becomes this movie about a wayward mother reuniting with her daughter and trying to get back to who she was. Who she was just happens to involve superpowers. And it’s a really strong drama with great performances and is one of those indies I’d highly recommend to people. There’s a lot of great stuff here, thematically and otherwise.
461. Safety Not Guaranteed
A lovely film based on a real advertisement taken out. A guy wrote an ad looking for a partner in traveling through time. He said he was building a time machine and is looking for someone to accompany him on his journey, and the title comes from the last line of the ad. The film is about Aubrey Plaza as a journalist who is sent to cover this guy’s ad (mostly to make fun of him), but then starts to be charmed by his way of thinking and earnestness, and the film becomes this nice romance between the two. It’s one of those indies most people like because it’s so charming. And it’s hard to argue with it. It really is likable.
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